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Showing posts with label George Kerevan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label George Kerevan. Show all posts

Monday, 9 February 2015

Wedding of the Year - the impending nuptials of Ed Miliband and the SNP

The National gets better by the day: in today’s edition, it excelled itself.

From its eye-catching, ‘Russian Roulette’ front cover through its news items to its articles, analysis and readers’ letters, it provided a wealth of information on key topics for committed supporters of Scotland’s independence – and hopefully many others as yet uncommitted – that helps to make them the driving force in the best informed electorate in the world, despite the efforts of the rest of the mainstream media to misinform and mislead them.

And of course, there’s the regular Monday delight – the Greg Moodie cartoon, in my view one his very best to date. (My cartoon consumption goes back to the 1940s and includes the American funnies, sent to me by relatives in the U.S., and I was viewing the great newspaper political cartoonists from early childhood.) This one had a real story to tell, with the word balloons driving the riveting, graphic wedding narrative – the impending nuptials of Ed and the SNP.

The second part of Alasdair Gray’s series, titled Towards Democracy contained - among his musings on explosions in munitions depots  and the nuclear risk, the following gem -

Everyone wants to live as far from such things as possible, so the London Government has placed the most dangerous in Scotland.”

He also observes that “British and North American armed forces have been bombing and blighting foreigners in wars where a minority of British and U.S.A soldiers died, and this caused no explosions in their homelands before a suicidal guerrilla group destroyed the New York World Trade Centre.”

But perhaps Alasdair’s most interesting proposition was that Alex Salmond adopted the high-risk strategy of moving the SNP towards NATO membership – which almost split the party in 2012 – to stop Obama, the U.S.A. and its supporters from “directing a global blast against Scottish independence before the referendum.”

Alasdair Gray advances the idea that this was in fact counter-productive -

As a result, President Obama spoke as gently against it as the Pope. I believe the strong blast Salmond feared may have given the Yes campaign a clear majority, because a lot of Scots were getting tired of being told they could not rule themselves ..”

Well, we’ll never know – but I, for one, think Alasdair Gray may be right. But in this, as in so many other vital, pivotal judgments, e.g. the currency question, I don’t envy Alex Salmond the agonising choices he had to make. Characteristically, he made them bravely, decisively and without equivocation, not as a gambler, but as the statesman he was - and is.

Alasdair is in no doubt, and has a view on what must be done -

NATO will keep its bases in Scotland no matter how much an independent Scotland protests, but that is no reason the SNP conference should not return to its former policy of total nuclear disarmament.”  and “Alex Salmond’s amendment is less than three years old, and can be scrapped.”

However, for me, the most insightful and immediately relevant article in this fine National issue was George Kerevan’sTime to face up to reality about the role SNP MPs will play post-election”. Kerevan is one of the true political thinkers in the SNP camp, and unlike many Scottish journalists, is capable of getting right down to the structural heart of complex political issues that others shy away from.

Anyone who wants to understand the complexities of the Westminster situation Nicola Sturgeon and the new bloc of SNP MPs will face if they are returned in the numbers the polls suggest must read this article - and then read it again.

In the maze of options, from coalition (currently ruled out) to confidence and supply deals (not “supply and demand” deals as one journalist suggested elsewhere!) the voting behaviours of an SNP/Plaid/Green bloc will demand fine judgements, as Kerevan’s keen eye detects.

Yesterday, Iain Macwhirter, in an excellent Sunday Herald article In this era of Coalition, the political map has turned yellow addressed similar questions.  But he used the language of negotiation  (a language most journalists should take care to avoid, since they rarely have any understanding of the dynamics of negotiation) to describe the dilemmas facing the SNP Westminster bloc.

In examining the choices the new SNP bloc will face, the choices that Nicola will have to mastermind – having ruled out the possibility that Alex Salmond “could become the back-seat driver from hell”, he adopts what I believe to be a false premise, namely that Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out “playing politics with the Tories

Leaving aside the fact that the SNP minority government of 2007-2011 only survived because Alex Salmond deftly played politics with the Tories to get his budgets through, what Nicola has ruled out – as I understand it – is entering into coalition or any confidence and supply-type arrangement with the Tories. To do either would clearly be political suicide for the SNP in Scotland.

But this cannot be extrapolated into saying that the SNP would never vote with the Tories on any issue. (If Nicola said this, I missed it!) One only has to illustrate by extremes, e.g. what if the Tories agreed to vote against the upgrading of Trident against a Miliband Government determined to do it?

Although such a scenario  stretches the bounds of probability, it does illustrate that distaste for the Tories cannot overwhelm common political sense, where there are key voting issues on which consensus exists. Such a distaste for the SNP from 2007 to date led the Scottish Labour group in Holyrood into utter folly, directly contributing to the decline of their party.

So when Iain Macwhirter says of voting with Tories that “Remarkably, the SNP has chosen not to do so and make clear that the only party it will play politics with is Labour” I believe him to be factually wrong.  He goes on to say that -

Sturgeon has thus handed an extraordinary advantage to Ed Miliband. He knows that the SNP will go into post-election negotiations with with precisely zero negotiating clout

I must disagree totally with this verdict of a journalist, Iain Macwhirter, for whom I have the highest admiration and respect. Politicians, lawyers (Nicola is both!) and journalists rarely have even a rudimentary understanding of negotiation, but Nicola Sturgeon is a unique politician, as is her mentor and close colleague and friend, Alex Salmond – and both, although rooted in fundamental political principles, are supreme pragmatists.

They will deal – when and how they need to deal – when the situation demands it, in the over-arching interests of Scotland and the Scottish people.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The SNP and NATO – the argument in detail

On Sunday, I set out the basic SNP argument for the proposed NATO U-turn, and offered a basic classification of the elements of that argument. When it first came out in July, that statement, taken from the defence paper, was the sum total of the argument, together with Angus Robertson’s interview with Isabel Fraser.

And that would have been it until the SNP’s October conference if the issue had not been kept under a continuous spotlight by the media and by other concerned parties represented principally by the SNP CND group and the NO to NATO Coalition.

However, because of that external focus, allied to internal dissent, we now know much more about the thinking of those who champion the NATO U-turn. It was evident from the start in July that the co-signatories of the defence paper, Angus Robertson and Angus MacNeil were behind it, and it logically followed that the First Minister had to be behind it or it would never have seen the light of day. It could also be safely assumed that senior figures who were on record from much earlier as favouring a change of policy on NATO -such as Michael Russell – were behind it, and that the Cabinet were either behind it or maintaining a public silence if there was dissent within their ranks.

I had entertained what later proved to be a vain hope (see Renfrew Cabinet meeting) that Nicola Sturgeon might be against it, which would have been hugely significant if true. However, the First Minister and Deputy First Minister made it abundantly clear in Renfrew Town Hall that they were solidly behind the NATO motion, and advanced arguments for it. So the delegates to the SNP Conference will be asked to vote on a motion that has heavyweight endorsement at the highest levels of the party.

The MSPs who have come out against the motion are – at the last count - John Wilson, Gordon MacDonald, Jamie Hepburn, John Mason, John Finnie, Bill Kidd, Marco Biagi, Bob Doris, Sandra White, Jean Urquhart and Dave Thompson.  In addition, the SNP CND group and the SNP Youth group are opposed.

The NATO U-turn has been described by some as immoral and hypocritical. I agree on both counts.

THE ARGUMENTS FOR THE NATO U-TURN 

We now know a lot more about the thinking behind the proposed policy change than we did in mid-July, thanks to various articles in the newspapers – what Bill Ramsay of SNP CND called “the deafening silence from senior members of the party” - some by SNP proxies such as George Kerevan, and from the latest responses of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to queries.

So let’s listen to George Kerevan, because it is now apparent after the Renfrew meeting that he reflects the SNP leadership’s position very closely indeed. In his Scotsman piece, Kerevan opens with an attempt to wriggle out of the boorach provoked by the SNP leadership’s inept handling of the pre-conference release of the news of the U-turn – the storm of protest, the inaugural meeting of SNP CND and the “high-profile MSPs” opposed to the NATO proposal – by ingeniously converting the rift to a rite -  “another rite of passage for the SNP as it moves from protest movement to nation-builder.” Aye, rite (sic), George …

He goes on to a low-key acknowledgment on the proposed U-turn -

“This is partly to deflect inevitable negative publicity during the referendum campaign – “Salmond will leave Scotland defenceless.”

If that alone was the SNP’s objective, it has already failed, since such publicity had already been endemic in the media and from unionists, including the NATO criticism, but now has the crucial added element of ridicule, because of the self-evidently contradictory nature of the proposal – resolutely non-nuclear but willing to be part of a nuclear alliance, with the ludicrous idea that NATO membership can be offered to the UK as a bargaining concession to speed the removal of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

Kerevan focuses on trying to rebut the SNP CND arguments against NATO membership, indeed his nation-builder stuff is a rather panic-stricken response to the very existence of SNP CND as the “first break in the party’s famous iron discipline for well over a decade”. Of course, his Scotsman article is a reluctant recognition that the party’s hope that they could keep the debate out of the media and the public domain until the party conference is now blown out of the water, and some public response is desperately needed, but ideally not in detail by senior party figures so that the fiction can be maintained. (Angus Robertson, as the main architect of the U-turn, had little choice but to speak.)

Let’s look at his attempted rebuttal arguments -

SNP CND argues that Scotland’s remaining in/joining NATO will make it harder to get rid of Trident. (For the record, I believe that the SNP’s wish to be part of NATO may be to sanitise a long-delayed removal of Trident, i.e. a fudge to square the SNP’s non-nuclear stance with NATO membership.)

Kerevan’s response is that if an independent Scotland was in NATO, it would be harder for rUK to “blackmail Scotland, as a fellow NATO member into accepting what it does not want…” i.e. nuclear weapons on Scottish territory.

This argument does not stand up to even the most superficial scrutiny. ‘Blackmail’ is in fact a criminal technique of negotiation - an attempt to compel a concession against a threat of unilateral implementation of something fundamentally unacceptable. Kerevan uses the term blackmail pejoratively - in a non-criminal context - but without appearing to understand it. If one thinks about it, the concept of nuclear deterrence is blackmail on a grand scale conducted between nations and power blocs.

What exactly does Kerevan think the ‘blackmail’ will consist of?

Refusal to remove Trident from an independent Scotland?

Threatening an independent Scotland with force?

Refusal to assist with the defence of Scotland on matters that affected UK/NATO interests?

Or perhaps he is thinking of the post-referendum/pre-independence negotiations? Does he actually think the UK will be more demanding, more obstructive to a Scotland that rejects NATO and nukes than to a Scotland which is a member but demands removal of nukes as a quid pro quo for its membership?

A Scottish Government negotiating team with a clear YES mandate from the 2014 referendum, standing clearly by its principles of a non-nuclear Scotland and non-membership of a nuclear alliance which is committed to the possession and use of WMDs will have more moral and intellectual credibility  - and bargaining clout - than one fatally compromised by NATO membership.

SNP CND argues that the NATO bureaucracy could be used to delay the removal of Trident from Scotland if Scotland were within NATO.

Kerevan’s response is the tent argument, much beloved by those who wish to suppress dissent by giving the illusion of influence. In essence it is stay within the system and influence change from within. It is the argument Labour has used since the Cold War and the nuclear standoff on nuclear disarmament – it has failed for over half a century. It is the current argument of Labour for remaining within a failing, unjust and unequal UK – it has failed, spectacularly. It is the argument currently used by the SNP to try to mute dissent within the party over NATO – it has failed.

But George Kerevan dutifully trots it out -

“Germany and other key Nato states are already leading a campaign to remove nuclear weapons from European soil – a campaign Scotland can support best by remaining inside the alliance where its vote counts.”

Bill Ramsay’s response was short and to the point in his Newsnicht debate with George Kerevan -

If Scotland stays in NATO and fights its anti-nuclear case, we’ll be doing exactly what Germany has done – failed. (7m 24sec in to Ramsay/Kerevan Newsnicht interview.)

Kerevan has an example of what he sees as such influence at work to offer -

“… at its Chicago summit in May, under heavy German pressure, Nato altered its so-called “deterrence and defence posture”. Instead of a traditional refusal to give a “no-first-strike” guarantee, Nato now promises never to use nuclear weapons against a country that does not possess them, and is a signatory of the UN non-proliferation treaty (that means Iran, by the way). The Chicago summit also adopted – for the first time in any military alliance – a commitment to make nuclear disarmament a constituent part of its strategy.”

I would not go so far as to say that such changes – if they really meant anything – were worthless. What I do say is that they are concessions wrung out of a NATO in a state of confusion over its role post-Cold War, still in search of a credible enemy to justify its continued existence, and anxious to curry favour by tossing a bone to nuclear disarmers.

Remember, NATO is the United States, France and the UK, with the other 24 member countries as impotent spear carriers, with no influence whatsoever on the major decisions. One only has to remember what happened to democracy, to UN resolutions, to truth and justice at the time of the Iraq war – all were either ignored or perverted to the pre-determined wishes of Bush and Blair. And that was in the face of an imagined, invented threat! I don’t trust NATO, especially in a crisis situation, and neither should the SNP nor an independent Scotland.

It is instructive to note that Kerevan, faced by the SNP CND argument that the US will ‘thwart’ the German campaign, has to reach back to General De Gaulle and a 46-year old example to try to rebut that patently true statement.

The kernel – and a pretty rotten kernel it is – of George Kerevan’s argument is this -

“Pretending Nato is solely to blame for nuclear weapons is naïve. Pretending an independent Scotland that repudiated Nato could fend off Russian bullying in the oil-rich North Atlantic is a dangerous gamble. And pretending a majority of Scots will vote for independence plus neutrality is political fantasy.”

Firstly, no one is ‘pretending’ that NATO is solely to blame for nuclear weapons. The United States which invented them and which used them against a non-nuclear state – twice - must take the principal share of the blame. The former USSR for reacting to that by creating its own nuclear arsenal comes second in the blame game. Then the rest followed …

The non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) formally recognises and in a sense, legitimises five states as nuclear weapons states (NWS) - China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States. But  three other state who are not signatories to the non-proliferation treaty - India, Israel and Pakistan - possess nuclear weapons. North Korea, in 2009, claimed that it had developed a nuclear weapon: it is believed to possess a small stockpile of simple nuclear weapons.

What is NATO, then? It is a military alliance created and dominated by the United States, the country that created the nuclear threat and was the first and so far, the only one - to use it against civilian populations. It is the threat that countries outside of it reacted to by creating their own nuclear arsenals. The United States bankrolls and support Israel and its nuclear weaponry, despite the fact that Israel is not a recognised nuclear weapons state under the NPT. De facto, NATO supports Israel, although it is not a member.

Secondly, the idea that an independent Scotland would face “Russian bullying in the oil-rich North Atlantic” is, to put it mildly, an unlikely scenario, but if it did, it would not be bullied by a nuclear threat – a ludicrous proposition. It would defend itself by conventional methods and, as a member of Partnership for Peace, could call upon support from other countries in the North Atlantic region who, NATO members or not, would respond because it would be self-evidently in their own security and strategic interests to do so.

Kerevan’s last, and faintly contemptible suggestion - that a majority of Scots will be asked to vote for independence and political neutrality and will reject it - is nonsense. There is no suggestion whatsoever that an independent Scotland will be neutral in conflict situations involving its neighbours and long-term friends and allies – nor would it in any way shirk its European and international obligations under the UN - and to imply it is to deny the many public policy statement by the SNP and the First Minister to the contrary – all made in the context of the existing non-NATO policy. Kerevan is trying to equate non-membership of NATO with pacifism, which is patently ludicrous.

The Scottish electorate will vote for an fully independent Scotland, in control of its own defence, foreign policy and economy, but fully integrated into the European and international community and full compliant with its responsibilities to these communities.

The fantasies are all Kerevan’s – the paranoid fantasies of NATO and its cold war mentality, locked into the military/industrial complex, desperately in search of an enemy and a role. In October in Perth, we can only hope that the SNP delegates do not allow themselves to be sucked into this paranoid nightmare and that they vote against NATO membership.

Say NO to NATO!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cameron’s veto, Europe and Scotland

veto from the Latin I forbid – a constitutional right to reject a legislative amendment.



Cameron’s fiasco at the EU summit was a disastrous negotiating and diplomatic failure in my view, but it has positive aspects as far as Scottish independence is concerned. (I may analyse this from a negotiator’s perspective later.) Whether they offset the undoubted threats caused by the UK being marginalised in Europe remains to be seen, but let me proceed to what I know may be regarded as a dangerously rash statement, one which I will probably regret.

I think the Scottish Government may have to re-think its timescale for the independence referendum, and by that, I mean bring it forward. 2014 at the earliest is now beginning to look like too late.

To use the telling phrase of an SNP branch colleague, the present situation has the feeling of a phoney war, a term coined to describe the period from September 1939 to May 1940 – from the UK’s declaration of war against Germany to the Battle of France and Dunkirk.

I recognise all the commitments made to timing in the second half of the term, repeated many times by the First Minister and others, but circumstance alter cases. The global situation and now the European situation have experienced a quantum shift since April/May of 2011. The new, deeply unstable situation created by David Cameron will potentially seriously damage the UK economy, and soon.

His government has no mandate from the people of Scotland, and unless Scotland, as a pro-European country, wants to be shackled to an anti-European dinosaur and retreat into the insularity of an offshore island of Europe, the Scottish people must have the chance to speak as soon as possible.

If the Coalition falls, Scotland would have the same voice that it had in May 2010 at a general election. What song it would sing is another question …

If it sang the same song, it would still be powerless against the Westminster numbers. There is little doubt that had Labour been in Government, the outcome of the EU summit would not have been much different. A general election now would probably produce another hung Parliament and another Coalition, even if there was a polarisation of the vote in England to Labour and the Tories.

It might result in something much worse if the extreme parties of the right caught a popular mood of anti-Europeanism coupled with a distrust of the three failed major parties – Tories, Labour and LibDems.

No one calls a referendum they don’t expect to win, but no one can ever be certain of the outcome of a referendum, especially in rapidly changing times.

Polls are snapshots of popular opinion at a point in time, but they are like a snapshot of a sunny day in Edinburgh – a moment later the sky opens and the wind cuts to the bone. And if you are lucky, the clouds part, the winds abate and the sun shines again. If you are not, and you are are not clad for heavy weather, a bolt hole must be found, and anyone that promises shelter will do.

A great Englishman once said "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."

A great Scotsman, Robert the Bruce, was faced by a stark choice on of the 23rd and 24th of June 1314 - to be prepared to give battle against superior forces or retreat. Emboldened by his victory over an English knight, Henry de Bohun, in single combat, and by the unexpected route of a force of 300 hundred English knights under Clifford, he still was faced with the decision to either give battle or retreat. He chose to give battle, and to risk all for Scotland’s freedom.

Alex Salmond is not a 14th century knight, and he is not playing 14th century politics. But he will not be oblivious to the parallels. Bruce had not intended to give battle, but he reacted to rapidly changing circumstances, especially to the knowledge of the impact of his two unexpected successes on the already low morale of the superior force.

The First Minister has already killed his Henry de Bohun and his force have routed their Clifford. How will he assess the dynamics of a rapidly changing situation on his return from China?

I was puzzled and disappointed that no Scottish Government minister chose to appear of The Politics Show Scotland today to discuss the Eurozone/UK crisis. I dismiss out of hand the explanation that prior commitments or diaries had anything to do with this decision.

I also dismiss the inevitable unionist opposition conclusions – that the SNP has no coherent policy on Europe or that the party is a one-man band, waiting for Godot.

I think we can be reasonably certain that Scottish Government ministers have been in close contact with Alex Salmond, and that there is a bigger – perhaps a much bigger – game afoot.

Are we preparing to emerge from the Tor Wood?



Tuesday, 18 October 2011

It’s that independence thing … Letters to The Herald


I haven’t written to The Herald is some time, but a letter yesterday from Alex Gallagher of Largs on the definition of independence and devo max, focusing on the recent Newsnight Scotland programme featuring Stewart Hosie and George Kerevan caught my eye. Since I had clipped this programme and offered blog comment on it already, I thought I’d try a punt with a reply.

It didn’t make it into today’s paper for the good reason that Iain AD Mann, a prolific and formidable contributor to The Herald Letters page, who has argued in an always erudite and informed way for Scotland and independence over many years, had offered his reply, as had another contributor, and the ratio was two to one on the SNP side of the argument, which was well covered.

The anti-SNP letter today from John Milne was interesting, not for its content, but for the fact that he had submitted a closely similar letter to The Scotsman yesterday. Insofar as there is an etiquette in these matters, it is not the done thing to submit essentially similar letter content to two papers at the same time. Of course, the newspaper has no way of knowing this has been done until after the event if the letters are published on the same day, but I would have thought that the Herald might have been aware of what The Scotsman Letters page carried yesterday.

Anyway, here is my unpublished reply to Alex Gallagher, for what it is worth …

UNPUBLISHED LETTER TO HERALD – sent 18th October 2011

Dear Sir,

Let me offer some help to Alex Gallagher (Letters 17 October 2011) with the definition of independence, and also UK unionist politicians who seem to be having trouble with a concept the rest of the world understands clearly, and has done so since time immemorial.

Independence, in the context of an individual or a nation, is freedom to run one's affairs - all of them, within a framework of freely entered into - and freely exited - relationships and agreements. Stewart Hosie, who speaks for the SNP, gave a concise and absolutely clear response to every question about independence put to him. So-called devo max is a colloquial term, meaning loosely full fiscal autonomy but without independence, within the state of the UK. George Kerevan made a dog's breakfast of trying to define devo max. Kerevan is a member of a political party and has been identified with it in the past - this would also describe most commentators and journalists in Scottish politics. He was on this programme in his commentator/journalist capacity, and is not a spokesperson for the SNP, anymore than say, Bernard Ponsonby of STV is, or I am ,or Lorraine Davidson of The Times (a former Labour spin doctor) is for Labour.

The SNP wants independence - that is the party's raison d'etre, and the First Minister is totally committed to that objective. He also realises that not every one of the voters who gave his party such a decisive majority last May want full independence. Some will undoubtedly wish to remain in the UK, and must be given that choice: some may want more autonomy for a devolved Parliament while remaining in the UK. The referendum is at least two, maybe three years or more away. A considered debate is taking place in the Scottish Government and in the SNP about what choices the Scottish people should be offered in the referendum. That debate is in marked contrast to the near-hysteria and increasingly contradictory demands emanating from the unionist parties.

What is abundantly clear is that the electorate do not want to be buried alive in the detail that necessarily will constitute the negotiating agenda after a YES vote to independence. Neither do I.

As a Scottish voter, what I want is crystal clear - to the opportunity to vote for a completely independent Scotland, free to do everything that any independent nation in the world is free to do, within a framework of cooperation with our near neighbours and long-term friends in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including sensible sharing of resource and defence commitments, but with a firmly non-nuclear context for Scotland. Such agreements will extend to Europe, with Scotland as an independent member of the EU, and the world, with Scotland having a seat in the United Nations.

Like any independent nation, Scotland will be free to make agreements and treaties, and to terminate them under agreed terms when they no longer meet the needs of the people of Scotland. We made one such agreement in 1707, not entirely freely, not unanimously, but under threat, intimidation and bribery. Nevertheless, we made it and have honoured it, and paid a price in blood for 300 years. Now is the time to end it, in my view. I hope my fellow Scots agree.

yours faithfully,

Peter Curran


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Independence – Newsnight Scotland

The UK Supreme Court will make a ruling at 10 0’clock this morning. The outcome will be significant, and it will say a lot about the UK’s relationship to Scotland and the ultimate fate of the Union.

Cadder – UK Supreme Court overrules Scots Law and Scottish judges

Fraser – UK Supreme Court overrules Scots Law and Scottish judges

Pleural Plaques – ?

If the UK Supreme Court does overrule Scots Law again – we hope it won’t - it will be a victory for cynical commercial interest over human values and the rights of vulnerable Scots whose lives have been threatened by forces beyond their control.

After the ruling is known, the Scottish Government will speak for Scots, either welcoming the decision of Scottish Judges being upheld, or against a decision that upholds the interests of big companies and profit against common humanity. In the latter case, the pseudo-Scots who call themselves the Unionist Opposition, with dreary predictability, will call this principled stance ‘Alex Salmond making mischief against the Union’.

NEWSNIGHT SCOTLAND’S MINI INDEPENDENCE DEBATE LAST NIGHT

The programme was one of those occasions when Newsnight Scotland rose to the issue and to the moment. This, however, was true only of the programme makers, and of Gordon Brewer, Eddie Barnes and Stewart Hosie. I never expect Scottish Labour, least of all Willie Bain, to rise to any occasion, but I had expected more of George Kerevan.

The programme was in three parts – a piece by Catriona Renton on the history of Labour’s negative campaigning against the aspirations of Scots to secure the independence of their nation, which was well-constructed, highly professional and crucially,  informative, in the way these scene-setting Newsnight Scotland pieces almost invariably are.



The second part was a debate between Willie Bain, one of the new Team Scotland group of Labour MPs set up to prevent their countrymen and women from gaining their freedom (I am entirely free of bias on the matter) and Stewart Hosie MP, one of the most economical and effective SNP spokespersons, with the ability to reduce a discussion to its essentials while remaining in command of the detail, a quality that is not universally displayed by SNP spokespersons, as George Kerevan later made evident.

Willie Bain was weak in argument – what little he had – and obscure on just what was new in the new Team Scotland, managing to sound like a bad Iain Gray tribute act.

Stewart Hosie was a model of clarity, as he patiently answered the questions that Gordon Brewer was obliged to ask about the exact meaning of independence, but clearly already knew the answers to.

The third part was Eddie Barnes of the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, who also displayed great clarity and insight into what was meant by independence and exactly where we were at, and where we might be at, come the referendum.

And then we had George Kerevan, journalist, commentator, former SNP candidate, and SNP supporter. I shot from the hip on Twitter exchanges last night on this, and thought the cold light of today might dispel my reservations about his input. They haven’t, but here are the clips – judge for yourself.

I will be back gnawing at the bone either later today or tomorrow …



I close with a reprise of Stewart Hosie’s definition of what the independence of a nation means, which is exactly what I hope the independence of my nation, Scotland, will mean.